It’s been far too long, and I know I’ve made this promise (unkept) before. This time, I mean it: I will post at least one each week. If I don’t, I’ve promised myself that I won’t/can’t have a beer until I do post. (And you know that will be strong motivation, though I’ll likely cheat a bit by drinking a good IPA in the process of posting.)
And, yes, much has happened since my last post some months after our return from East Africa and well before our 2017 move to California (which has proved to be a good one and, thankfully, you’ll be happy to note, we’re not in a fire zone). Before imparting some exciting news (to be detailed in the next posting about an upcoming planned return to Uganda), I think we should answer this:
Why California, one of the worst states to retire to? And why Clovis, a relatively small town in the semi-arid San Joaquin Valley?
We had decided to move “west,” ultimately settling on California after checking out Nevada, Utah and Arizona, simply to be closer grandchildren, specifically that our son, Ian, and his lovely wife, Andrea, planned having some. (They have since complied, twice.)
We decided on the central valley because the beach was too expensive (and, turns out, too “fire prone”). Same for the mountains. We wanted to be near, not “in,” a big city. So, we checked out every smaller town around Sacramento, Fresno and Bakersfield, the central valley’s big three.
We looked at:
· Housing prices (Fresno/Clovis is/was the only area where properties were at “below value”).
· Universities for culture and sports (Fresno State won the College World Series 10 years ago, and you know we love college baseball).
· Crime rates (Clovis's is among the lowest in the state).
· Local schools (though we don’t have kids; our thinking was that if a community spends money on schools, its residents “care” about quality of life, and Clovis has what some say is the best school system in the state).
· A nearby airport (Fresno Yosemite International modern and close, only eight minutes away).
· A nice downtown (“Old Town” Clovis is quaint and accessible with a ton of activities, including a year-round farmer’s market, along with good restaurants and micro-breweries throughout the town).
· Oh, and a Costco (and those who know us know that's important, and Clovis, we happily discovered, has one, and next door Fresno has two).
|It's 4 o'clock, so "wine time" (IPA for me) in Clovis. Cheers!|
In February 2017, we visited for three days, driving all over and talking to lots of folks. The town was clean and litter-free (there’s a tax to keep it that way) with tree-lined boulevards. People were nice. Good restaurants. Nice library facilities with a new one on the way. An inviting, walk-able downtown with a year-round farmer’s market. Clovis is "Gateway to the Sierras," so snow is just 30 or so minutes away most months. All was just as we’d imagined. Even better. We were sold.
Back in Kansas, we checked out existing homes online and, once our house sold, which went quickly, we jumped in the car and headed to Clovis to find a house. All the ones we’d put on our list just the day before were gone by the time we got there. So, we decided to build.
And we’re so happy we did.
All new with state-of-the-art everything, including solar power (which means no electric bill). It’s one-level (no stairs, which is nice for us “old folks”) with “California landscaping” (all drought-resistant plants) and no grass to cut! (First time in my married life that I haven’t owned a lawn mower). And we put in a swim/spa (rather than a high-maintenance pool). I swim; Joyce “spas.”
So, all is fine. We’re loving it here. And we see the kids and grandkids quite often. We do miss friends (but several have visited and others are planning to). We also miss “weather”. The song is true: “It never rains in California.”
Ah, but there’s that swim-spa, so we do get wet just about every day. Happily.
Next: Back to Uganda . . . and beyond!